Mr Ashok Bajpai is the Managing Director of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals Group and is successfully steering it to greater heights. He has earlier been leading MNC's in India and Asia for the last 12 years. Being a seasoned leader, Mr Bajpai holds vast experience of 28 years that spans diverse sectors in both government and private segments like operations, finance, consumer etc. With a degree in Economics from the George Washington University and an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, Mr Bajpai brings with him a wealth of knowledge. He has expertise in organizational leadership specializing in driving process excellence. In an exclusive interview, with B S Rawat, Mr Bajpai talks about the plans and the challenges that lie ahead. Excerpts:
Drug Today Medical Times: Please share your thoughts about your journey so far?
Mr Ashok Bajpai: I’ve been fortunate enough to work in a diverse set of industries across several countries in my career. I believe what truly determines the success of an enterprise is its proximity to its primary customer. That is the one element that remains constant across all sectors.
DTMT: What are the great things you have found at Apollo Hospitals that have made you to choose the group?
MAB: Our chairman, Dr Prathap C Reddy, is the pioneer of modern healthcare in India. I believe in his vision of providing world-class medical care to the people of India. What truly differentiates Apollo hospitals is its attitude of keeping the patient first and foremost in every decision. That element of providing tender loving care (TLC) for a patient and his family during the time of crisis is something that influenced me a great deal when I was making my decision to join the group.
DTMT: As the Managing Director of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals Group, what have you found to be the biggest challenge?
MAB: We perform some of the world’s most complicated surgeries in this hospital. Our team of doctors nurses and support staff are simply world-class. Providing this at approximately 10% of the price you would pay in the US is a constant challenge. Yet we are determined to continue to do whatever is possible to make healthcare as inclusive as possible.
DTMT: Tell us something about Apollo Hospitals Group's expansion plans and what are the key challenges the Group is currently facing?
MAB: There is a tidal wave of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart and cancer, affecting the Indian population. We are gearing up to meet this challenge and to provide the best possible technology available in the world. For example, we are soon going to be providing proton therapy for cancer patients in Chennai. This investment, which is of several hundred crore Rupees, will truly provide hope for patients suffering from this disease.
DTMT: How has Apollo Hospitals been deploying and using technology, quality control measures and providing better care to its patients?
MAB: I’m proud to say that Apollo Hospitals is JCI certified, which means that it has received the highest quality rating in the world. Several of our hospitals across the group have also received this prestigious certification. This entails a very rigorous set of processes that must function efficiently 24X7.
DTMT: What is Apollo’s Nepal policy?
MAB: Following an agreement, customers of Shangri-la Development Bank in Nepal will get easy and high quality health services including room charge, diagnosis, and other check-up at affordable prices in Apollo hospitals in Delhi.
DTMT: How do you think the country can bridge the huge gap between demand and supply of qualified medical practitioners?
MAB: Quality healthcare definitely requires quality medical practitioners. I believe there is a great opportunity for the youth of this country to join healthcare through various programs in their respective regions. I look forward to seeing the quality and quantity of such medical professionals rise in the coming years.
DTMT: What needs to happen to make the healthcare system more patient-centered?
MAB: I think being patient-centric is a state of mind. It is a philosophy that has to permeate into the culture of an organization. Apollo has that ethos. I believe it has been able to achieve this high level of patient-centricity by developing both strong processes and training programs in soft skills that make a patient’s experience as smooth as possible. I believe institutions must invest in training in order to become more patient centric.
DTMT: How important is medical tourism today?
MAB: Medical tourism continues to be an important segment. I believe this is a sector that continues to have great promise and should receive strong attention as we develop India to be a focal point for quality medical healthcare at affordable prices. With medical visas to Pakistani nationals currently being restricted, this has had a negative impact. Meanwhile, there are several other countries that continue to look towards India as a destination for quality medical healthcare which is not available in their regions.
DTMT: What is the primary focus of your CSR activities?
MAB: We support a large number of NGOs that work towards child nutrition and the prevention of disease. We work with schools in the vicinity and as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, have constructed a large number of toilet blocks for students. We are also working to provide clean drinking water and health awareness campaigns across the country.
DTMT: Targeting the Indian market also requires training and research for everyone. How do you integrate this side of things?
MAB: Apollo Hospitals are an institution that firmly rests upon the three pillars of clinical excellence, education and research. We have an active DNB programme. We also have a number of consultants who regularly contribute to the academic community with new techniques and best practices. We support and encourage all of these projects and actively partner with our consultants to further their work.
DTMT: As a successful administrator, what is the secret behind your success?
MAB: I think it is important to listen to the whole story and have the courage to take action.
DTMT: Any event/incident in your life, which has influenced you most?
MAB: When I was starting my career, I asked my father a similar question. I remember his response. “Just be sincere,” he said. I come to work every day with that thought in mind.
DTMT: How do you balance between your work and family?
MAB: Weekends are spent in the company of family and friends. I reconnect with my wife and children and make sure I look after my own health so that I can look after others.